Saturday afternoon, the Colorado Avalanche played their first of three games in three nights. The Avs sent a young team to Minnesota and came away with a loss that was even more boring than the 2-1 score suggests.
A more veteran ladened Wild lineup looked like they were just trying to knock off some rust, while the Avs team that was mostly filled with future Rampage players had a hard time capitalizing on scoring chances.
Outshooting the Wild 29-24, the young Avs couldn’t solve Devan Dubnyk all night. The Wild goalie looked good all night despite a lot of physical action around him.
Though the roster was mostly youngsters, there was one familiar face on the Avs blue line that was a sign for sore eyes. Nikita Zadorov made his preseason debut and looked good in the process. The big defender brought his usual physical game and showed why he is so important to this Avs team.
As far as the youngsters go, Chris Bigras made a pretty big mistake in his coverage that resulted in the first Minnesota goal, but he bounced back very well. He looked strong, poised and like a guy that doesn't want to be sent to San Antonio. He looked like an NHLer out there and made a strong case to make the team out of camp.
Up front, Carl Soderberg and Matt Nieto looked good. They looked like NHLers playing with AHLers and that’s all you can ask.
Andrei Mironov looked good times. He played on both the left and right side at different points of the game and looked good with the puck. One concerning part of his game is that he was floating a lot in his own zone. On more than one occasion, Mironov would get caught wandering out of position while the WIld had possession of the puck in the Avs zone.
Also, Jared Cowen is still not good. The defender didn’t show anything that would make the team want to give him a contract and I suspect he will be released from his PTO in the next few days.
Picking up where they left off last season, the Avs powerplay was abysmal. They went 0-8 with the man advantage - a number that included a few 5 on 3s. Of course, there wasn’t anyone playing tonight that is likely to be on the Avs top PP unit when the regular season starts, but seeing a team so anemic when up a man (or two) is very concerning.
The second half of the home and home series with the Wild goes Sunday evening. We expect to see the roles reversed, with the Avs playing a more veteran-filled lineup and the Wild sending a team filled with prospects.